By Farirai Machivenyika
The parliamentary hearing into bribery allegations against four members of the National Assembly began yesterday with the complainant Mr James Ross Goddard exonerating Messrs Temba Mliswa and Anele Ndebele in his testimony but incriminating two other legislators from the committee.
The duo is being investigated together with Leonard Chikomba and Mr Prince Sibanda by a Parliament’s Privileges Committee chaired by Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira on allegations of demanding a $400 000 bribe from Mr Goddard to facilitate his company, JRG Pvt Ltd secure a coal mining contract at Hwange.
They are alleged to have used their membership of the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee to demand the bribe.
The four are alleged to have demanded the bribe at a meeting held at JRG offices on November 15 last year, a day before the Mines and Energy committee was scheduled to visit to investigate operations at Hwange Colliery.
Mr Goddard told the committee that he had been introduced to the four by businessman Mr Shepherd Tundiya who indicated that as members of the Mines and Energy Committee they could assist his company get the mining contract.
Speaking during cross-examination by Mr Mliswa’s lawyer Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, Mr Goddard said the Norton legislator had not made any financial requests to him during the meeting and had left soon after the meeting.
He added that Mr Ndebele had also gone and sat in his car after the meeting while Mr Sibanda and Chikomba remained behind where the request for the “facilitation fee” was made through Mr Tundiya.
He said Chikomba and Mr Sibanda had indicated that they could not travel to Hwange without “something” to facilitate the deal.
“It (the issue of the facilitation fee) was raised by Honourable Chikomba and Honourable Sibanda that we can’t go to Hwange without something and it was Honourable Chikomba who was the most aggressive,” Mr Goddard said.
He said Chikomba later provided him with his personal banking details where he could deposit half the amount while the other $200 000 would be paid when the contract had been secured.
Chikomba, who is being represented by Mr Simon Musapatika is however, denying the charges saying in his testimony Mr Goddard had not provided any evidence that his client demanded the bribe.
He said the only issues his client discussed with Mr Tundiya when they were outside when the meeting had ended concerned money he was owed by the latter.
Mr Sibanda, who is being represented by Mr Freddy Masarirevhu, is also denying the charges and said Mr Goddard had failed to provide any evidence of his client demanding the bribe but was relying on perceptions.
Mr Masarirevhu also queried why Mr Goddard had not set up a trap to prove that the request for the bribe was genuine.
The hearing continues today. The Chronicle